FOUN 442: Ethics of Teaching (W09)

Queen's University

Professor: James Scott Johnston, PhD.
Office: A318 Duncan McArthur Hall
Telephone # 78395
Office Hours: TBA

Course Description

This course will consider some of the ethical problems and issues faced by teachers and educational institutions in early 21st century liberal-democratic nations. These include the traditional questions of ethics, such as the nature of freedom, authority and indoctrination, duty and obligation, right and good, as well as issues of professional autonomy and responsibility, teaching for human rights and social justice, and the role of environmental ethics in educational practice. This course includes readings from philosophy, philosophy of education, together with case law and regulations and standards of practice.

This course is theory-based and has numerous assigned readings. Those wishing a more practical focus on making ethical judgments in professional practice are encouraged to consider taking FOUN 455: the Philosophy of Professional Practice also offered this term.

Required Texts:

Singer, P (1993). A Companion to Ethics. London: Blackwell.
Strike, K. and Soltis, J. (2003). The Ethics of Teaching. New York: Teachers College Press.

Other materials:

Standards of Practice of the College of Teachers of Ontario including Casebooks 1-2.
Education Statues and Regulations of Ontario 2008


one homework assignment due end of week 3
one 15-20 minute presentation end of week 4
one 45 minute presentation week 6-7

Homework Assignment:

Choose one theme (e.g. nature of freedom, authority and indoctrination, duty and obligation, right and good) from Blackwell’s Companion to Ethics and combine it with one school of thought (e.g. virtue ethics; utilitarianism; deontology; pragmatism).

Discuss the following questions in paragraph form (about one paragraph for each).

1) Discuss the general stance this school of thought would take on the theme in question.
2) What criteria would this school of thought use/establish to determine or validate its ethical judgments?
3) What outcome or ‘take’ on the theme would it end up supporting, in your estimation?
4) What educational issues or problems would you presume to be important, given this theme and this school of thought?
5) What practical and/or policy changes would you presume to see given this theme and this school of thought?


Freedom (15-20 minute group presentations)
Authority and Indoctrination (15-20 minute group presentations)
Duty and Obligation (15-20 minute group presentations)
Right and Good (15-20 minute group presentations)

Practical Topics:
Autonomy and Professional Responsibility (Standards of Practice; Education Statutes and Regulations of Ontario)
Human Rights and Social Justice
Environmental Ethics in Educational Practice

Class One: Introduction

Introduction: Syllabus;
Strike and Soltis, Ethics of Teaching (Introduction)

Class Two: Context

Blackwell Companion: Christian Ethics (Chapter 8)
Blackwell Companion Part Three: Western Philosophical Ethics: A Short History
(Chapters 10-12)

Class Three: The Nature of Freedom and Authority

a) Strike and Soltis, Ethics of Teaching (Chapter 3)
b) Blackwell Companion: Morality and Psychological Development (Chapter 41)
c) Blackwell Companion: Kantian Ethics (Chapter 14)
d) Blackwell Companion: The Implications of Determinism (Chapter 47)

Class Four: Duty and Obligation: How Ought I to Live

e) Blackwell Companion: Virtue Ethics (Chapter 21)
f) Blackwell Companion: Universal Prescriptivism (Chapter 40)
g) Blackwell Companion: Consequentialism (Chapter 19)

Class Five: Right and Good

h) Blackwell Companion: Natural Law (Chapter 13)
i) Blackwell Companion: Utility and the Good (Chapter 20)
j) Blackwell Companion: Right (Chapter 22)

Class Six: Brief Presentations

Class Seven: Professional Autonomy and Responsibility:

k) Strike and Soltis: Ethics of Teaching (Chapter 6)
l) Blackwell Companion: Business Ethics (Chapter 31)
m) Standards of Practice of the Ontario College of Teachers and Education Statues and Regulations of Ontario

Class Eight: Teaching for Human Rights and Social Justice

n) Strike and Soltis: Ethics of Teaching (Chapters 4-5)
o) Blackwell Companion: Equality, Discrimination and Preferential Treatment (Chapter 29)
p) Blackwell Companion: The Idea of a Female Ethic (Chapter 43)

Class Nine: Environmental Ethics, War, and Other Species

q) Blackwell Companion: Environmental Ethics (Chapter 24)
r) Blackwell Companion: Animals (Chapter 30)
s) Blackwell Companion: War and Peace (Chapter 34)

Classes Ten through Twelve: Presentations, Presentations, Presentations!



Faculty of Education

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000